Homeschool or Public School?

You have to do what works for you and each of your children. You know your kids personality and needs.  Follow your gut, not people’s opinions.  Right now I have 2 kids in public school and one I homeschool.  My high schooler is a social bug and academics come easy for him.  To homeschool him would not work well with his personality.  He lives for being with different people and talking to them.  He likes having a variety of teachers even when some of them bug him.  I consider my 5th grader to be a genius.  I homeschooled him for Kindergarten and then he went to public school.  He was extremely easy to homeschool because he is self driven and has a desire to learn and gain knowledge. I homeschool my 2nd grade daughter who is opposite of her brothers, academically.  She struggles and would rather talk to someone about how their day is going instead of read a book. The nice thing about homeschooling is that I can modify the curriculum to fit my daughter’s needs (this is picking and choosing what works, not writing curriculum).  Another benefit for her is that I can teach to her learning style; for instance, she is a visual learner and I can use manipulatives and hands on tools to help her learn.  For her, she learns differently than the average kid and would be more likely to slip through the cracks in public school.  

When deciding to homeschool, make sure you have the patience to work with your child.  The first few years are literally teaching the basics.  Know you are setting the school foundation for your child.  Your child is relying on you to show them the world of education.  For me, first grade was the hardest.  I can tell you after completing Kindergarten through 2nd grade.  I am very excited for the years to come.   Another thing to be aware of is learning disabilities.  You know your child, so you will be able to tell if something is “off”.  I discovered this year that my daughter has vision issues and she shows some signs of dyslexia.  She wears glasses for her sight, and on top of that she has vision impairments.  After having her tested, I have modified her school work a lot.  I want her to feel great about her ability to learn and I don’t believe that learning disabilities define who she is, just how she learns.  

If you send your kids to school, be involved.  Walk your child to class, give him a hug, kiss.  Make your presence known as a parent who cares about their child’s day and education.  Be supportive of your child’s teacher and helpful when homework comes home.  On homework, I am sure most of us agree we don’t care for it.  When my daughters were in 5th grade they both struggled in math.  When they came home I would ‘re-teach” them math; they went from not understanding it to fully grasping concepts. Remember that no matter what- you are a teacher in your child’s life.   Whether you choose to homeschool or put your kids in public school; go for it knowing everything will work out.  Your decision can be a yearly choice.  

Walk confident and be Blessed!

Tough Love

 

  Let’s talk about tough love. So to begin, when a baby is born our job is to teach them unconditional love. When a baby cries, we comfort, when it’s hungry, we feed it, when it’s scared, we reassure them. As the baby moves to toddlerhood we set major boundaries. We want to keep our babies safe, so we are their eyes and ears. As they grow they have more boundaries and they are more aware of their surroundings, so by the time they are teenagers they have instincts on what is safe and unsafe (for the most part).

 Trust is earned, love is given.

  Tough love should not be turning our backs on our kids. When our teenagers are starting to rebel, they want to see who cares. Chase after your kids always. Grab and hug them when they are sad, angry, or quiet. We have to let our kids know we will always be there for them. Some kids verbally lash out, others like to run to their rooms, while others will just stay quiet and be unresponsive. In all these situations we have to break down the walls and get through their thick little (adorable) heads. For the verbal kids I allow them to speak their feelings and/or opinions and I stop them if they are disrespectful. The runners, I follow, I hug them, sit with them and work through their feelings. The hardest one for me is the unresponsive, I hug my child and then give them options to label their feelings. I ask if they are mad, angry, frustrated? I also tell them I am not moving from here until you tell me what is going on.  Letting your child know you are there no matter what, will change your relationship.

  The idea that a parent would turn their back on a child is awful. Every child has something that is important to them. Start by taking things away and having them earn it back. You set the tone for respect at a very early age. Follow through! If you give a consequence and want to change it (say you said something out of anger, “ I will throw away your dvd if you don’t clean your room”). Change it and let them know that you’re in charge, no matter what your decision. You probably bought that dvd anyways. Explain why you’re making your decisions too, because that will help them understand why you do things you do, and later help them talk to you about what they’re going through. Hugging your teenager might be awkward at first if you haven’t been hugging them all along. I can tell you there have been many studies done regarding touch, people thrive by being hugged and touched. You are the parent and you will always be the parent. Remember what you do will impact generations to come.

Dealing with the Death of a Grandparent

400682_467210426689596_1441140039_nSo my mom passed away suddenly in February of 2015.  She was a very healthy woman with lots of energy.  She got pneumonia that turned septic and was gone in a day.  I have 5 children, ages 8-21 years old.  I know everyone handles grief differently.  I just want to share a few things I have learned, and give a few tips that may be helpful.

*I was in shock and mourning the loss of my mom; I wanted my kids with me 24/7.  So I kept them out of school until after the funeral.

My 2 oldest girls cried and shared what they were feeling.  They continue to talk, cry and laugh with me and each other.  We talk about memories, what we would miss in the future, and how to handle what people say to you during this time.  We rejoice knowing she is in Heaven.  My 8 year old will start crying and feel sad at all different times.  She is homeschooled, so some of her memories were with Grammie helping her with school work; which meant school work was an automatic reminder that her Grammie was gone. She is very open to talk and share what she is thinking and feeling.  I always acknowledge that this is a hard situation but we have to keep going; this is what Grammie would want and she wouldn’t want us to stop living or be sad all the time.

After the initial shock hit my boys, they cried, then they closed down.  They tried not to cry, acted like they didn’t care and then later came some other issues.

I started by letting my kids teachers know what had happened.  I believe in informing teachers  what is going on at home so they can help while they have my child for 6 hours a day.  If teachers are informed they can have a much better understanding of your child’s behavior.  For instance, my 10 year old started sucking his thumb again, something he hadn’t done since he was 4.  His teacher informed me he was doing at school and was able to help him while he was there. I reminded him to keep his hands out of his mouth while he was at school; although I allowed him to suck his thumb while he was at home.  This was the way he was comforting himself while he was  grieving.  I have to say there are still times he sucks his thumb and I know it helps him to feel better.  He also started having a hard time going to sleep at night.  I started using essential oils nightly on his pillow along with some Bach music playing until he falls asleep.  My 15 year old suddenly had a short fuse and no patience at school stating, “They shouldn’t mess with me, especially right now”.  He just expected everyone to know what he was going through.  He had so many different feelings and wasn’t sure what to say or share.  He is a strong, masculine boy who believed men need to be strong and hold it together no matter what.  Seeing his dad, uncle and Grampa cry helped him to see that crying was ok.  He believed there were tiers in grief and that he was on the bottom.  I let him know we all lost the same person, yes our relationships were different but he had a right to all his grief and sadness.  We have had a lot of short and long talks about feelings of grief. He is sharing a lot more with me, but this has been a long process and by no means do I believe all is well just yet.  My goal is to keep him sharing and healing.

I continue to talk to my kids and try to pull memories from them and ask how they are truly feeling at that moment.  I specifically ask “How are you feeling about Grammie’s death?”  This helps me teach the kids about emotional health and that their feelings are right for them to feel.  Sometimes my kids feel like they don’t have many memories with Grammie; I just talk about a few things to remind them and bring their memories back.

We will all have to deal with death at some point.  Remember  as long as someone has accepted Christ, they go to Heaven and we will see them again.

*Keep looking up to God and keep the faith.

Journaling for Kids

Journal

I like to journal about what is going on in my life and my prayers.  I start my kids young in this process.  I give them a journal and tell them to write anything they feel.  I do let them know  I will be reading it.  This may seem like a break in trust and their personal privacy; but I can tell you it  opens the door to more communication, since they can write things that are hard for them to say face to face.  When I was in charge of a music program at my kids school (a volunteer position); I was on the phone an excessive amount (every afternoon for 2-3 hours).  My daughter was in 7th grade and journaled how she didn’t like me on the phone so much and wished she could talk to me more.  I read her journal and then sat down with her to talk about it.   At first she was nervous that I would be mad at her; but I let her know she had a right to her opinions and feelings.  I changed when and how long I would talk to people on the phone.  Another recent time was my son’s journal, it was a message to God about how he missed Grammie; this is my child who is quiet so I took that opportunity to pull more feelings out of him.  I have read about friends, family, and life happenings in my kids journals.  The journals are raw and full of a lot of emotions.   I feel it has helped me to be more open to see things from their perspective. The key to kids journaling is for them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment.  My advice to you is be opened minded and unoffended as you read your kid’s journals.

*When the kids are little I tell them to draw pictures of how they are feeling

*My daughter enjoys scrapbooking composition notebooks to use for her journals.

From Label to Title

 

I think we need to change the way we catch up with one another as women.  The question comes, so what are you doing?  Well I’m a …fill in the blank.  How about we change this world to “what is your Title?”  We know we are God’s daughter first, who is also a mom, a sister, a wife, a secretary, a writer, a doctor etc.  I am amazed by how we feel less than each other based on what we do.  We are in this world to support, and encourage each other.   As I raise my 5 kids I want them to feel great about being a Christian and doing what God has called them to do; no matter what people’s opinions are.  Now I am not trying to hush the mouths of people, I just want to make sure  my kids can discern between opinions and facts.  To be honest I struggle with this myself.  This is where love and encouragement comes in.  God has called and gifted each one of us.  Yes our gifts can be similar but we all play a key part in this life and we all need to be encouraged to do what we are called to do.

Go today and everyday with the joy of the Lord and enjoy each day to the fullest.

Moving

Moving can be an exciting and stressful time.  As we pick a new place to buy or rent, do improvement, pack boxes we can forget the huge change that is coming for our kids.  They have questions like, “Will I get to take all my toys”, “Does our food go with us”, “What about our animals”, Can we take the microwave”?  All legitimate questions for a kid.  Make sure the kids are involved from the beginning. people-as-boxes Kids do better when they know what is going on.  I know it’s work to take them in and out of the car to look for house; I understand the extra time it takes packing boxes when they want to play with the stuff.  Let them pack a few of their own boxes and have them label it.  Moving can be very scary and traumatic for kids.  One thing I like to do is pick up a little gift, stuffed animal (Because we need more-Right?) for siblings walkie talkies; than the day we move into the new place I give the kids the gift.  My adult daughters still remember the walkie talkie phone I got them when they were 8 & 10 and they said that was so cool even though the move was an exciting one, it helped with the transition.  Good luck with all your adventures and may you be blessed by the roads you travel.

Family Traditions

Traditions

As Christmas vacation approached I started to think about our traditions.  In our family we like to decorate early for Christmas; we start during Thanksgiving vacation.  Then out comes the hot chocolate, sprinkles, whip cream and of course the candy canes.  Usually every Tuesday in December we have hot chocolate and do homework in the family room.  Of course this isn’t limited to Tuesday, if other days we feel like doing it and the schedule works out, we enjoy our afternoon treat.  Anyways, it is important to have your own family traditions, whether it’s around holidays, summer time or just because.  Kids look forward to traditions.  They can be anything you want that works for your family.  Some other things we enjoy doing are: Jamba juice and french fries or frozen yogurt for dinner. This usually takes place in the summertime.  Another family favorite is the sleep over in the family room; yes, even daddy and mama join in the adventure. When this happens in the wintertime my hubby always has a fire in the fireplace and keeps it going all night long.  We love to play games, Pictionary, card games, I spy, spoons, and any other games we choose.  This is year round for us but especially when everybody is out of school.  We live about a mile from a donut and coffee shop; we love to take family walks and get donuts and coffee. Walking and talking is the highlight of the trip!  So go make some new traditions and create many lasting memories with those precious babies of yours.  May God bless every adventure you have together!

Spend time and invest in your family!

Technology, the Big Debate

Tech for kids

So what is the right age for a tablet, computer, phone, maybe email, or social media? Well I believe this varies by parents. Once you introduce your kids to something new you need to be on top of it and in full communication with them about that item. Think about T.V. You don’t give your child a channel changer and leave them alone for hours to “explore”. I know all the things I listed above can be scary; being a parent is scary. You choose what your child gets and when. As well as how much time they get with each device. Remember all of these are privileges, not necessities. Always remember; you know what your child is ready for at what age. We have rules in our family of no cell phones till the end of 6th grade, and no social media accounts until Jr. High. They can only have family as friends/followers to start with until High School. Now let me share how we do social media. First of all, we know all user names and passwords. Second, we must pre approve friends before friend/follower request are sent or accepted. This continues until they graduate high school. You may ask “Well what about secret accounts?” Easy. We go on our kid’s phones, computers, social media pages- from their computers of course. They know if anything is questionable, their computer, phone, etc. is ours to take. Even if they received it as a gift. They live in our home, therefore, our rules. Let me tell you, it takes work to have all these electronics. We have 5 kids and that means we can’t be relaxed about it. We are constantly checking phones, computers, tablets, social media, etc. With everything we allow them to have, we have to check up on those things. We have well behaved children, but I make sure they are on the right track every day. So a few tips on all these electronics.

1. Make sure you have an open, honest relationship before giving them any of these gadgets.

2. Never allow computers/ tablets/phones in the bedroom especially with a closed door.

3. We plug in all phones in our family room area every night, no phones in the bedroom.

4. No phones at the dinner table.

5. Make sure to limit all electronics to your contentment.

6. Remember you are the parent; it is your job to teach your sweet babies about responsibility.

7. I use the line from Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

1 Timothy 3:4

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

Potty Training

So what is
the right age and when is the right time to potty train?

So here are
some things I have been told:

“Children
should be potty trained by 2”; “what are you doing, that child should be using
the toilet by now”; “Oh I would never have 2 kids in diapers at once”

So the correct answer is your child will tell
you.  I know that sounds silly.  Let’s start with the basics.  First off your child needs to be able to
communicate with you that he needs to go to the bathroom.  So if your child is not a great talker,
wait!  Secondly your child should have a
desire to go use the potty or not want his diaper changed.    I
remember we started to train our first son and he had 3 accidents in about 2
hours, needless to say we waited a few more months for him to be a bit more
aware of his body.  I think too many
times we are told there is a specific age that a child needs to be potty
trained; you know just like when they should quit breast feeding or be off the
bottle.  Every child is different my
first potty trained before she was 2 while #4 was 4 years old when he was
finally ready.  You must go with your gut
and your knowledge of your child; not what people tell you needs to be done.  Ok, so for the fun part how to do it.  If you go out a potty chair in the car is
great so it is conveniently located. 
Pull ups;  I used these over the choners
when we went places so messes were minimal when they did happen, but also my
child could still feel the wetness from not using the toilet.  I trained my kiddos on mini chocolates or
M&M’s; 1 for each pee 2 for poop.  I
always packed some chocolates in the diaper bag for when we weren’t at home.  Remember to not get mad when there is an
accident they are learning When an accident occurs, take the child and have
them sit on the potty because they may have to go some more.  Then help wipe up or bathe your child and get
fresh clothes on and reassure them they can do it.  I suggest packing a bag for when you are not
at home.  3sets which include: choners,
pants, socks, shoes if you have an extra pair. 
If you are going to teach you boy he can stand up while peeing; cheerios
are a great tool for aiming.  We have our
boys sit down when we are at home, friends or relatives house.  They can stand up when they use public
restrooms.  Good luck and enjoy the
adventure, some of the best stories come from potty training days! 

Showing affection in front of our kids

So as I stood in my kitchen getting and giving hugs and kisses to my hubby; I glanced over to see the kids look up and then look away with no reaction.  That got me thinking of how normal this behavior is with us.  We are always showing affection to each other especially in front of our kids.  We hug, kiss, and even dance in the kitchen.  As parents we are great at physical touch with our kids, but I think we sometimes forget to give our spouse the same touch in front of our kids.  When kids grow up seeing this; it will be easy and natural for them with their future spouses. If you are not use to this; I challenge you to start today by greeting your hubby at the door and giving him a huge hug and long kiss before the kids get to him!